“Life, Jim, but not as we know it”?

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I don’t know about you, but I find this close-up shot of a daffodil a bit disturbing. It was sitting in a jug with other daffodils on our kitchen table, full lit by a pendant light. We’d just had dinner and I thought I’d capture some floral detail.

But somehow daffodils by night don’t quite make sense. And there’s a worrying ‘otherness’ about the too-close-quarters; rather like the first time you looked up someone’s skirt when you were a child.

Hm. It makes me think though – what a wonderful mystery is this thing we call life. And in this case, so very yellow!

A Matter of Focus ~ Fond Thoughts Of High Summer On Windmill Hill With Greater Knapweed And Assorted Grasses

 

It’s blowing a frigid gale in Wenlock today; Met Office warnings of 60-80 mph winds as Storm Doris comes tearing through. What a woman! Talk about flighty.

First thing this morning I had to dash outdoors in my nightie to rescue the sweet pea seedlings: they were being blown out of their pots. Not only that, the freshly open daffodils were all askew, and the garden canes whipped off the shed wall into giant Pick-Up-Sticks.  Phew and phew. Just TOO much wind.

So it’s good to think about warmer weather, of lying in the grass on Windmill Hill, and peering at things botanical with the sun on my head. So thank you, Paula, for this week’s Thursday’s Special.

Focus is the watch word, however we care to interpret it,  and it has had me happily trawling through summer days in my own version of A la recherche de temps perdu. Which also reminds me that Marcel Proust used to do his writing in bed. Today, with all the draughts, and in places where we never knew we had them before, this is a very tempting prospect. So I’m wondering if He Who Recycles Pallets Builds Walls And Binds Books would mind delivering sustenance at regular intervals to the office bed where I might huddle under the duvet with my laptop. Seems unlikely somehow.

Here’s another shot of the knapweed, this one well and truly open for business along with assorted small bugs:

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Against The Odds ~ The Wenlock Edge Sky Painter Steals Raoul Dufy’s Paint Box

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I was in primary school when I fell in love with Raoul Dufy. In those days there was a state schools’ travelling art scheme, and at regular intervals our classrooms would receive a new reproduction of some striking painting. The said artist would then feature in a piece of project work: we would learn something of their life, and diligently copy or create our own versions of the picture.

Vincent Van Gogh featured often, and for a long time I was overly fascinated with the man, the loss of his reason and his ear, and was also visually transfixed by his chair.

But it was one of Raoul Dufy’s many images of La Promenade Des Anglais in Nice that captured my imagination. As I painstakingly copied the never-before-experienced palm trees, the balustrade, the blue, blue sea beyond, I became aware of quite new sensations: of something excitingly foreign, but above all, and I could not have put this in words at the time, of a sense of unfettered joi de vivre, something I had never felt before, since it was definitely never a sensation to be experienced in my home-life. And so when I see this sky, I have that same sense of the joyous liberation of the spirit, and think that this is possibly all I need to know about the universe. It simply IS. And I am glad to be here.

Dufy Le Casino de Nice

Daily Post  Against the Odds

Unnerving ~ Being Judged By A Sheep

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It had never occurred to me until last week that sheep might have opinions. Being brought up within the purlieus of a Cheshire farm and on a picture book diet that included many iterations of Little Bo Beep, I knew they could be wayward. Also a close confrontation with a lamb in my formative years was the source of one of my first big life lessons: disillusionment.

That is to say, it was the moment when I found out for myself that things aren’t always what they seem. This revelation was unexpectedly visited upon me around the age of two. I had tottered determinedly across the field near our house, intent on grabbing a lamb. I had not encountered one at close quarters before, and I was spurred on by a sense of eager expectation that I still recall. Capturing one took a little time, but oh, woe. Where was the warm, cuddly creature I had imagined it to be? What was this clammy, rubbery thing I had grasped so firmly by the neck ? I was not impressed, and quickly abandoned the enterprise, feeling very let down. There was also some inkling, for which I had no words at the time, that I had been somehow  set up by my parents. Didn’t they know how lambs actually felt?

Then last Wednesday, after a good tramp around the Wenlock countryside the tables were turned: I found myself the object of ovine scrutiny.  I stared back, fully expecting the sheep to shy away as they usually do, but no, it went on giving me ‘the look’. In fact it gave me the distinct impression it was not impressed by what it saw. I felt quite self-conscious. Hmph, I muttered. Who’d’ve thought it, being made to feel sheepish by a sheep; clearly more to them than meets the eye. And so followed another important, if belated life lesson, and one of the hardest to grasp: do not be quick to judge. Or even better, Mrs. Farrell: do not judge at all, lest the boot ends up on the other foot.

On the other hand, perhaps the Wenlock sheep somehow divined a closet lamb strangler when it saw one.

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copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

Frosted Apples ~ Thursdays Special

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This first photo was taken in December before the blackbirds had begun to feast on the stash of windfall apples out in the field. My last post featured a shot of how the apples look now. Yesterday when I was passing by, there was a whole flock of blackbirds pecking away – at least four and twenty. I’ve never seen so many all once that weren’t in a pie or singing song of sixpence! They didn’t stay to have their photos taken.

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Paula’s prompt this week is seasonal. Please take a look at her inspiring photography:

Thursday’s Special: Wintry

Sometimes In Life It’s Hard To Know Which Way Is Up

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Last Thursday Paula at Lost in Translation gave us two weeks to come up with a conceptual photo. I’m afraid my brain is a bit sluggish at this time of year, so this is the best I could conjure.  However, I did enjoy playing on our spiral staircase. Our cottage being an 1830’s square extended into a 2001 rectangle, has two sets of stairs – one either end of the house, and both of them hopeless when it comes to moving items of furniture from one floor to the next. Also Graham and I go round and round the house missing one another. And then, just sometimes, I move so fast, he thinks there are two of me, simultaneously upstairs and downstairs. In fact recently he spotted me in triplicate. I’m not sure which of us should be the most worried by this phenomenon.

The stairs in the photo are in the corner of our kitchen. You might just be able to spot the oven gloves. An unintended inclusion, if matching.

Thursday’s Special

Some Favourite Horizons ~ the Silurian Sea Effect And The Changing Seasons

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Here in the small English Midlands town of Much Wenlock,  we live in the lea of an upthrust ancient sea. (I may have mentioned this once or several times before). As I took this photo I was standing on the petrified flanks of Wenlock Edge – the compacted deposits of shallow tropical waters that teemed with giant sea scorpions, sea lilies,  corals, trilobites and all manner of brachiopods in the long ago age before fish, or indeed, before life as we know it.

In fact, as the photo well shows, we sit in a bowl, lodged between several folds in the landscape. It is a place of naturally rising springs, which is probably why St. Milburga’s family of Saxon Mercian princes founded an abbey here in the seventh century: pure water and the presumption of godliness going hand in hand. The town also has several other holy wells besides those associated with Milburga. It seems to have been the equivalent of a calling card. Every saint who visited Much Wenlock left us a well to remember them by. Then in the 1930s the good burghers of Wenlock decided they were a risk to physical well being and had them all capped.

Milburga’s Well, though, had especially enduring powers. As I have also mentioned before, the legends that tell of the life of this Paris-educated abbess, are routinely associated with springs bursting hither and thither. In fact so potent is her association with pure water sources that even in the late nineteenth century, rain collected from the roof of the parish church – a building founded on the remains of Milburga’s abbey, was still considered to be an essential ingredient  for beer brewing (never mind the additional mossy deposits). Likewise, water from the actual well was absolutely expected to cure all manner of eye disorders, as well as reflecting in its glassy surface the identity of husbands-to-be to the lovelorn Wenlock lasses who, come May Day, would rush to look there for signs of their future partners.

Anyway, I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that there are certainly great disadvantages to living your life in a hollow. It can limit your vistas in every sense. But there are advantages too. In our case it also means that whichever way you strike out of the town, you are always in for a fresh horizon. In every direction we have them; one for every moment of the day. So here are some of my favourites.

In June to the south of the town we had an outbreak of poppies. It was stupendous:

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Then in late summer, standing at the southerly end of the town, among the wheat fields and looking north, I discovered this fine view of the Wrekin. Some trick of the light/perspective/geography has made it seem extraordinarily looming and close:

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When it comes to the other quarters, if walk from the town centre, in an easterly direction, down the Bull Ring and out past the ruins of the 12th century Cluniac Priory, you will find the once monastic parkland where the Prior went hunting before the place was asset-stripped and sold off to Henry VIII’s faithful servants, and thereafter to generations of would-be gentry. This photo was taken a few days ago. A winter’s view then:

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And then looking east from the north end of the town – this time from Windmill Hill:

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Also there are the ever-changing westerly false-horizons as seen from our house that backs on to the foothills of Wenlock Edge:

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Finally, if you leave the town and climb on to Wenlock Edge itself, and if you can find a suitable gap in the trees, you can look west across Shropshire and towards the Welsh borderland:

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And the reason why I’m posting all these views?

Well, this week the WordPress photo challenge invites us to pre-empt the New Year making of resolutions and post a photo impression of what that resolution might be, or if not a resolution, then of some envisaged new horizon; to look ahead beyond life’s present busyness.

This made me consider my own horizon-watching habit, which daily fills me with a sense of wonder.(For one thing I am very lucky to have the time to do it at all – a luxury of luxuries). It is a form of day-dreaming, or watchful meditation and a good way to rest a racing mind. I also enjoy posting views of my homeland landscapes because I believe we cannot love the world too much. But I’m wondering, too, if we don’t do altogether too much ‘looking ahead’, ‘looking for more/the next/the new.’

The fresh horizons we may be seeking are not really OUT THERE. “Look within to the universal self.” Inside each of us, that’s where all the work needs to be done if we want to see real change. I know I can change myself, though I recognise that I might need some assistance. I also know that I definitely cannot change others, much as I might wish to in these times when too many people appear to define their identities through their fear, envy and hatred of others. If anyone ever wants to know where hell is, then it is there.

copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

 

New Horizon

Yesterday, Coming Home From The Allotment

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Hard to know which of us was on mind altering substances – me, my camera, or the Wenlock Edge Sky-painter. Perhaps all three of us. Anyway, I was tramping along the margins of Townsend Meadow, having been to the allotment for a trawl of Tuscan kale and cabbage tree greens. It was around 4 p.m. but already going dark, and I had paused briefly to watch three little girls bouncing so joyously on their garden trampoline in a hectic communion of after-school-steam-lettingoffness – when it suddenly occurred to me to turn around. And this is what I saw. It took my breath away. So of course I had to snap it and pass it on.

Thinking Pink Over Wenlock Edge: Thursday’s Special

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All right. All right. Call it art theft if you like. I’ve captured one of the Wenlock Edge Sky Painter’s quirkier pieces and am passing it off as my own. But then who could resist stealing that rose petal cloud? We all of us need one now and then. So please, be my guest. Cast off in the blue. Drift and dream. Who knows where it will take you.

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Thursday’s Special  This week Paula asks us to think pink. Please waft over there for more pink thoughts.

Maintaining A Web Presence Despite The Big Windows 10 Update Ambush

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The blogging schedule, and life as I knew it went haywire last week after Microsoft (welcome to the totalitarian state of cyberworld) inflicted on us the apparently much vaunted (though I actually didn’t know a thing about it until it happened) anniversary update of Windows 10, so sending thousands of worldwide users into a state of serial rebooting frenzy.

While it is true that my newish laptop made it through unscathed, my older PC, on which I do all my writing and blogging, was completely banjaxed web-wise. And not only could I no longer access the internet or my email for more than five minutes together, and then finally not at all, the update transformed my printer into a fax machine. Now that is clever. I do not own, nor have ever owned a fax machine. Needless to say, my virtual fax gadget would not print off Marilyn Armstrong’s corn bread recipe that I had downloaded from her blog. Rats and double rats.

I should have known that things were not going well for the PC when it took hours and hours and hours to complete the update. The temper was thus well frayed before I discovered what Microsoft had done to my settings. I mean, how dare they? HOW DARE THEY!

I was well into a second day of cursing and fretting and attempting all sorts of unnecessary and time-consuming procedures (defragmenting, dis-installing Google Chrome, rebooting, removing all weighty files from the PC to an external hard drive, re-setting the router, disconnecting from internet provider) when I finally went to the laptop and googled ‘Windows 10 update problems’. And low and behold, there revealed was the worldwide extent of the Microsoft mess-up.

In an article in Forbes Magazine  lovely, lovely Gordon Kelly addressed the problem of those inflicted with rebooting-itis, and in so doing revealed that it was possible to go into computer SETTINGS  and find the option to revert to pre-update settings.

Select and press enter.

Well, for goodness sake!

It sounded too simple for words. But, by Lucifer, it worked. Astonishing. One click, and my little corner of the internet universe was restored. The printer stopped masquerading as a fax machine and printed the corn bread recipe. The only problem is, will this work the next time Microsoft inflicts an unwanted all-system update on us? What settings might my machine revert to next time? Should I not risk it? Should I try to go back to Windows 7, which was perfectly adequate for my purposes? Is it even possible to do that now I’m infested with Windows 10, or will everything be screwed up?

Mr. Kelly says Microsoft really needs to unhook security updates from general operations, AND more importantly, give people an option. I should think so too. Mr. Kelly also informs us that Microsoft mean to instigate charges for the use of their wretched system with its overblown advertising and unnecessary apps and gizmos which take ages to clear out of one’s machine.

He says that to start with the $7 per month fee will only be charged to commercial users, but one can see where this is heading. Frankly, I would like a bit of compensation for two days of wasted time and utter fraughtness. Apart from which, what if I had been running a small business that was dependent on internet function; what if the laptop had been afflicted too, and I hadn’t found a solution that avoided calling in a computer expert and cost me money?

Mostly though I would like to be assured that Microsoft is NEVER, EVER going to do this again. No organisation should have this kind of power – to have total control of my machine on my desk  in my own home, and without a by or leave. I mean, what have we let in here? A cyber version of Pandora’s Box?

And now I’ve wound myself up again, I’ll go back to where I started with a soothing image of an untainted kind of a web, as seen yesterday in the corner of the kitchen door. This version even comes with its own rainbow and strangely displaced hydrangea reflections from across the garden. Looking at it now, the Luddite lifestyle option suddenly seems appealing – out with the hi-tech machines, back to the solitary writer’s garret and a quill pen? Hm. Maybe not. But perhaps I’ll log off and go and make Marilyn’s corn bread. Far more wholesome.

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copyright 2016 Tish Farrell